Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, the Executive Director of the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), has called on parents to discuss adolescent reproductive health issues with their children.
He said this would prevent the children from seeking for information, which may be wrong, from their peers and make unguided decisions that could affect their sexual lives in future.
Mr Awal made the call on Tuesday during the opening of the Second Edition of the Northern Ghana (NORGHA) Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Conference 2018 for Young People.
The conference was on the theme: “Overcoming Socio-cultural and Religious Barriers to Young People’s Access to SRHR Information and Services in Ghana; the Position of the Young People.”
The four-day conference is to create the opportunity for young people to interact with stakeholders to demand an enabling environment to enhance SRHR information and services.
It was organised by NORSAAC, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, Global Platforms, Action Aid, Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems, Youth Empowerment For Life, and the Ghana Education Service among other stakeholders.
Mr Awal, reflecting on the successes of the 2017 edition, said NORGHA 2018 sought to provide more elements of career guidance training in specific areas for young people’s sexual and reproductive health issues.
He expressed worry on how most homes had become unsafe for young people exposing them to abuse and persistent violations.
He said some parents were in denials of what their children knew or should know leaving the young ones to educate themselves negatively through their peers.
Mr Awal, however, encouraged all young people to become resilient and question the activities of their parents, teachers, relatives and peers in the decision making process.
“You own your bodies and you must control your body. No individual including your parents should take advantage of your body,” he said.
Vo Naa Mohammed Baba Bawa, the Paramount Chief of Vogu Traditional Area, said the conditions of young persons in northern Ghana were worse in terms of access to information on SRHR as compared to their southern counterparts.
He said this could be attributed to the socio-cultural and religious barriers that impeded their access to resources, information and services, especially their reproductive health issues.
Vo Naa Bawa urged all the young people participating in the conference to use the opportunity to maximize their reproductive growth and development potentials.
Chief Alhassan Issahaku Amadu, a former Director of the National Population Council, Northern Region, encouraged the young people to take their education seriously and explore the opportunities it brought to help promote development.
He urged NORSAAC to work in synergy with the public and private sector organisations to help synchronise the information flow and service delivery in a youth-friendly manner to trap and solve the challenges of the youth.
Madam Khadija Mohammed, a student of Sang Zakaria Islamic Junior High School, who gave a speech on the Socio-cultural and Religious Barriers to Young Person’s Accessing SRHR, said there were several policies and laws in Ghana that aimed to empower and protect the interest of young persons but due to the limited involvement of the youth in such processes, they became unaware of them.
She said implementers of those policies sometimes took advantage of the young persons’ ignorance and exploit them making it difficult for the youth to express themselves.
Madam Khadija said most sexually active adolescent youth, both males and females, did not consider themselves as being at risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases including HIV because they were young and not promiscuous.
She expressed gratitude to NORSAAC and its partners for the efforts to help young people to overcome the socio-cultural barriers that affect their SRHR needs.